Teams vs Zoom for business users

From free plans to premium, discover which of these platforms would align seamlessly with your businesses’ video conferencing needs.

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In a world that is navigating and embracing remote work, the demand for seamless video conferencing solutions has skyrocketed. 

Zoom was the hero of the pandemic era: in a blog post, CEO Eric Yuan shared that the companyreached 300 million daily meeting participants in June 2020. However, the competition has stepped up and expanded post-pandemic, and Microsoft Teams is now in the spotlight as a formidable competitor. 

Let's delve into the nuances of these platforms to help you decide which one suits your business needs best.

Teams vs. Zoom: essential business benefits & drawbacks

Whether you're seeking seamless integration or prioritising user-friendly interfaces, we’ll explore the key factors that can shape your team's virtual experience.

Microsoft Teams seamlessly connects with the Office 365 suite, which includes popular productivity tools like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more. For small businesses, this integration is beneficial as it allows teams to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations directly within the Teams platform. It also has virtual background features you can use, with the option of a white-labelled experience with a Teams premium license.

Security is a key strength, with end-to-end encryption, multi-factor authentication, and compliance with industry standards providing a protective shield. 

However, the extensive range of features may result in a steeper learning curve for new users. Teams can also be quite resource-intensive, demanding higher bandwidth and system requirements.

Zoom is celebrated for its user-friendly interface, catering to both new and experienced users. The platform also integrates with various productivity tools like Google Workspace, Microsoft Office, and Slack. Its virtual background feature adds a touch of professionalism to video calls, concealing any background distractions. 

However, the free version of Zoom imposes a time limit on group meetings – potentially causing interruptions for longer discussions. Zoom also faced security issues during the pandemic, sparking concerns about privacy and data protection.

Key features head-to-head

From meeting capabilities to collaboration tools, let's delve into the details and help you make an informed choice.

Meetings

Microsoft Teams:

  • Meeting size and duration: Teams accommodates up to 100 participants in a meeting with their free plan, and 300+ on paid plans, as well as an impressive 24-hour meeting duration on free plans and unlimited duration on paid plans.
  • Screen sharing and recording: Teams takes screen sharing a step further by integrating with the Office 365 suite, enabling users to collaborate on documents directly within the platform while screen sharing. Recordings are also automatically saved to Microsoft Stream, providing a secure and accessible location for storing and sharing recorded meetings. 
  • Whiteboards: Microsoft Teams allows for the persistence of whiteboards, enabling users to access and edit content from previous sessions. It also includes an “Ink to Shape” feature that automatically converts hand-drawn shapes into cleaner, precise geometrical shapes.

Zoom:

  • Meeting size and duration: Zoom also allows up to 100 participants on free plans, with a 40-minute time limit. Paid plans extend meeting durations to 30 hours+ and up to 300 participants.
  • Screen sharing and recording: Users can record meetings, webinars, and presentations, with the option to save recordings locally or in the cloud on both free and paid plans, which will be encrypted and can be password-protected. The host can also pass control to others for collaborative editing or navigation.
  • Whiteboards: Zoom offers basic whiteboarding functionality with essential drawing tools on the Free plan, the ability to save whiteboards on the Pro plan, richer drawing tools and customisation options on the Business plan, and advanced administrative controls for managing whiteboard content on the Enterprise plan.

Collaboration

Microsoft Teams:

  • File sharing: Teams simplifies file sharing, allowing users to seamlessly collaborate on documents within the platform.
  • Real-time co-editing: The platform supports real-time co-editing, fostering collaborative document creation and editing.
  • Task management: Teams integrate task management features, enhancing project coordination.
  • Messaging/chat: messaging and chat capabilities facilitate quick communication among team members.

Zoom:

  • File sharing: Zoom enables file sharing, supporting collaboration on documents during meetings.
  • Real-time co-editing: While Zoom doesn't provide native real-time co-editing, it integrates with third-party tools such as Trello and Asana for collaborative document work.
  • Task management: Zoom integrates with task management tools, allowing users to seamlessly coordinate tasks.
  • Messaging/Chat: Zoom's messaging and chat features provide quick communication options during meetings and beyond.

Integrations

Microsoft Teams:

  • Native integrations: Teams seamlessly integrate with Office 365 tools, providing a comprehensive suite for productivity.
  • Popular platforms: it integrates with popular platforms like Trello, Asana, and more, expanding collaboration possibilities.

Zoom:

  • Native integrations: Zoom integrates with various productivity tools like Google Workspace, Microsoft Office, and Slack.
  • Popular platforms: its compatibility extends to popular platforms like Dropbox and Salesforce, ensuring a versatile collaboration ecosystem.

Advanced features

Microsoft Teams:

  • Transcriptions: Teams support meeting transcriptions, providing a written record of discussions.
  • Live captions: captions enhance accessibility during meetings.
  • AI-powered features: users gain access to meeting insights.

Zoom:

  • Transcriptions: automated meeting transcriptions, creating searchable, editable records of conversations.
  • Live captions: to enhance accessibility and improve communication.
  • AI-powered features: users gain access to features like automatic meeting summaries.

AI features compared

Artificial intelligence (AI) is reshaping the landscape of video conferencing, enhancing user experiences and boosting productivity. 

Let's delve into the AI features offered by Microsoft Teams and Zoom, exploring the cutting-edge capabilities that set these platforms apart.

Microsoft Teams Copilot

Team Copilot is available with the Teams Plus plan.

What it can do:

  • Smart meeting insights: Teams Copilot utilises AI to provide meeting insights, summarising key points and action items.
  • Contextual suggestions: The AI can offer contextual suggestions during meetings, enhancing collaboration and decision-making.
  • Natural language processing (NLP): Copilot leverages NLP for improved language understanding, making interactions more intuitive.

What it can't do:

  • Limited creativity: while adept at processing information, Copilot may lack the creative thinking and nuanced understanding that humans possess.

Zoom AI companion

The AI Companion features are available on Zoom's Business and Enterprise plans.

What it can do:

  • Automatic meeting summaries: Zoom's AI Companion can generate automatic meeting summaries, saving time and aiding information retention.
  • Real-time language translation: The AI offers real-time language translation, breaking down language barriers during international meetings.
  • Attendance monitoring: Zoom's AI can monitor attendance and participation levels, providing insights into meeting engagement.

What it can't do:

  • Subjectivity challenges: AI may struggle with interpreting subjective nuances in discussions that require a human touch.

Free plans compared

Microsoft Teams takes the lead when it comes to meeting size and duration, allowing up to 300 participants with an impressive 24-hour meeting duration on its free plan. 

Zoom, in contrast, accommodates up to 100 participants with a 40-minute time limit on its free tier. The choice between the two might depend on the size and duration requirements of your meetings.

In terms of features and limitations, both platforms provide essential functionalities such as screen sharing and recording. However, Teams stands out for its seamless integration with Office 365, while Zoom offers compatibility with popular platforms like Google Workspace and Microsoft Office.

The suitability of each free plan for different needs hinges on your business requirements. If your team relies on Microsoft Office tools, Teams might be the best option. On the other hand, if you need compatibility with a broader range of productivity tools, Zoom could be the preferred choice.

Premium plans: Teams costs vs. Zoom costs

In this section, we'll look at the premium plans for Microsoft Teams and Zoom, comparing the costs, perks, and features.

Teams premium plans

Teams offers three plans: the Microsoft 365 Business Basic plan that starts from £3.30 per user, per month, the Microsoft 365 Business Basic at £4.90 per user, per month, and the Microsoft 365 Business Standard plan, at £10.30 per user, per month.

Benefits:

  • Full Office 365 Suite: the plans include the entire Office 365 suite, offering seamless integration of productivity tools.
  • Enhanced security: Teams prioritises security with features like data loss prevention and advanced threat protection.
  • Collaboration tools: the premium plans offer advanced collaboration tools, including SharePoint and OneDrive.

Zoom premium plans

Zoom's offers four plans: the Pro plan at £12.99 per user, per month, the Business plan at £17.49 per user, per month, then Business plus and Enterprise plans with quotes available on request.

Benefits:

  • Unlimited meeting duration: all plans remove the time restrictions on meetings, allowing for extended collaboration.
  • Cloud recording: this feature allows for easy access and sharing of meeting recordings.
  • Admin features: Business and Enterprise plans provide advanced admin controls for better management of users and resources.

Conclusion

Making the right choice between Teams and Zoom may be a crucial factor to the success of your business. 

Microsoft Teams can seamlessly integrate with Office 365, streamlining your workflow and enhancing overall efficiency. However, if ease of use is of a higher priority, Zoom's intuitive interface may be the game-changer for your team's video conferencing experiences.

The wrong choice might lead to a disjointed collaboration experience. For example, opting for Teams without considering your team's need for simplicity could result in a steeper learning curve. Or choosing Zoom, without knowing whether or not it will align with your current productivity tools, might hinder collaboration.

Ultimately, understanding your business priorities is key to making the decision that best suits your team's needs.

Written by:
Stephanie Lennox is the resident funding & finance expert at Startups: A successful startup founder in her own right, 2x bestselling author and business strategist, she covers everything from business grants and loans to venture capital and angel investing. With over 14 years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Stephanie is passionate about how business owners can not only survive but thrive in the face of turbulent financial times and economic crises. With a background in media, publishing, finance and sales psychology, and an education at Oxford University, Stephanie has been featured on all things 'entrepreneur' in such prominent media outlets as The Bookseller, The Guardian, TimeOut, The Southbank Centre and ITV News, as well as several other national publications.

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